Is your project being managed properly?

“Combining a Chartered Building Surveyor’s skillset with core project management methodology offers clients well rounded technical and management expertise and a better chance for a successful project,” says Damien Finnegan

The importance of an appropriately-experienced and skilled project manager should never be underestimated – there is no excuse for a poorly managed project.
At the outset of a project, every client understandably expects to see it delivered on time, on or under budget, and to an exceptional quality. However, too often failure to achieve this is down to poor project management. A project manager with not only relevant knowledge and experience, but also equipped with efficient processes, tools, and templates, can significantly improve the delivery of any project.

The Process

Project Management begins with an initial appraisal meeting in order to define the brief, identify key requirements and set expectation levels concerning time, cost and quality.

Following the initial brief and associated appraisal, feasibility studies and cost planning exercises a scope of works will be agreed with the client and signed off. All information, along with budget estimates, are included in a Project Execution Plan. This details how the management and coordination of the design will be undertaken, how the work will be procured and delivered.

Project Execution Plan

The Project Execution Plan (PEP) should be produced at the earliest opportunity and updated throughout the project. The document is shared with the client and the wider project team, and acts as a control document, which can be reported against at regular meetings. It identifies the Project’s key objectives, milestones, activities and the resources required throughout the project. As a minimum, it should include the following:

  • Description and brief
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Project cost plan
  • Risk analysis and management
  • Programme management
  • Procurement
  • Administrative procedures
  • Health and Safety
  • Quality assurance
  • Contingency plans
  • Project programme

The project programme is one of the most crucial aspects of a PEP as it is used to monitor progress and cost at every stage by defining tasks and setting pre-tender, pre-contract and contract stage targets. The project programme should include:

  • Project information, target timescales and costs
  • Critical path items, milestones and review points

Tracking and Monitoring

Assembly of the correct team from the outset is crucial in order to successfully deliver the project. Combining a Chartered Building Surveyor’s skillset with a robust project management methodology offers clients well rounded technical and management expertise, and will reduce the risk of their aspirations not being met. Key Action Tracking Schedules (KATS) and Risk Registers operate on a traffic light system and are important project management tools. They help to keep the entire project team aware, informed and focused on key tasks throughout every stage of a project. They also facilitate information collection and project tracking to ensure that any risks remain in focus until resolved. Tracking and monitoring the termination of each task, identifying the key actions and the critical path are essential in order to keep sight of the completion of each stage of the project.

Risk Management and Progress Reporting

With the aim of controlling overall time, cost and quality of a project, risk management and progress reporting is the process whereby specific project risks are identified, understood, actively managed and reported on.

Experience, awareness and managing risk is the back bone to successful project reporting and delivery. By undertaking risk reviews at an early stage, and producing risk registers this enables the project manager to identify an effective risk management strategy to mitigate the potential for variations, which could be costly and disruptive.

As a minimum, make sure your project manager and/or surveyor has the relevant experience and references coupled with a proven end-to-end (A to Z) project delivery process and not just making it up as they go along!

In summary, projects are a TEAM effort but the leadership and combination of a Building Surveyor and Project Manager skillset are essential when it comes to successfully managing Major Works Projects!

Damien Finnegan is Managing Director of Finnegan Property Services, award winning surveyors who are passionate about customer service.